Reasons to love Australia: Nicole Kidman, Koalas, and their De Minimis Customs Exemption

There are myriad reasons to love Australia. Ugg boots (e.g. "the winter flip flop").  Nicole Kidman, whose resolve and resilience is highlighted in HBO's new documentary on Scientology, Going Clear.  The Great Barrier Reef.  Mad Max (oh yes, we do need another hero!).  And, of course, this adorable creature:

But what I really love about Australia is their high de minimis customs exemption. 

"De minimus wha?"

I'm so delighted you asked.

De minimis customs exemptions are the value under which imported goods are not subject to customs or duties. For example, the U.S. de minimis customs exemption is currently $200, which means any item shipped into the U.S. under $200 isn’t subject to customs or duties.

Some countries have high de minimis exemptions, like Australia (~$1000), while others like Canada and the United Kingdom have very low ones (~$20).  For a small businesses, that means it’s much easier to export to Australia than Canada or the U.K.  As an Australian customer, it means you don't worry about your online order getting stuck at customs, whereas in my experience as U.S. exporter, Canadian customers have a form of postal PTSD from paying duties  on orders from friendly people right across the border.

So that's why I love Australia.  Hello!Lucky, the letterpress card company I own with my sister, has a loyal fan base of Aussies who appreciate our aesthetic and silly sense of humor (which makes sense given this is the culture that brought us the cork hat and Dame Edna).  We ship to Australia often, and it's blissfully simple.

So need to change to make e-commerce easier for small businesses and customers globally? We need countries to increase and harmonize their de minimis thresholds (e.g. make them consistent and high), eliminating many of the challenges small businesses face shipping goods across borders.   

Trade agreements offer a great opportunity to do this. Congress is debating several bills related to trade, including something called Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which authorizes the Obama Administration to negotiate trade agreements, and the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which takes steps to reduce bureaucracy at the US border, setting a strong example for our trading partners.

So support trade, mate!  Sharing is caring!